Humanities › Issues What Is the Difference Between an Immigrant Visa and a Nonimmigrant Visa? Share Flipboard Email Print Ken Usami/Photodisc/Getty Images Issues Immigration Immigration Politics Inmigración en Español The U. S. Government U.S. Foreign Policy U.S. Liberal Politics U.S. Conservative Politics Women's Issues Civil Liberties The Middle East Terrorism Race Relations Crime & Punishment Animal Rights Canadian Government View More By Jennifer McFadyen Immigration Expert Jennifer McFadyen is a freelance writer specializing in immigration-related issues, news, and laws. our editorial process Jennifer McFadyen Updated March 27, 2017 What Is the difference between an immigrant visa and a nonimmigrant visa? Your choice of visa is determined by the purpose of your travel to the United States. If your stay will be temporary, then you'll want to make an application for a nonimmigrant visa. This type of visa allows you to travel to a U.S. port-of-entry to request admittance from a Department of Homeland Security official. If you are a citizen of a country that's part of the Visa Waiver Program, you may come to the U.S. without a visa if you meet certain requirements. There are more than 20 visas available under the nonimmigrant classification, to cover the variety of reasons why someone may visit for a short time. These reasons include tourism, business, medical treatment and certain types of temporary work. Immigrant visas are granted to those who intend to live and work permanently in the U.S. There are 4 major categories within this visa classification, including immediate relatives, special immigrants, family-sponsored and employer-sponsored.